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Corporate giving rises – Mergers create big contributors

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Corporate contributions jumped by 12 percent last year and are expected to grow by an average of 17 percent in the coming year, according to a survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, reported in the July 13 issue.

Company giving budgets have seen double-digit growth in each of the last four years, according to Chronicle surveys. The increase is mostly due to the booming economy.

While the total amount of donations is growing, companies are not necessarily becoming more generous. Giving as a percentage of net company income, for example, has remained flat in recent years at about 1 percent.

Three pharmaceutical companies were the biggest givers last year. Merck & Company gave $256 million to charity, Johnson & Johnson $188 million, and Pfizer $154 million. Donations of medicine accounted for at least 70 percent of the companies’ total giving.

Wal-Mart Stores gave the most in cash contributions last year, at about $112 million. Philip Morris came in second at $98 million after changing its accounting system to keep better track of donations made throughout the company.

Mergers have created big givers. Bell Atlantic and GTE have merged to become Verizon, for example, but plan to continue giving as much as the combined total of both companies’ giving before the merger.

Other findings from the survey:

  • 11 of the 47 companies that reported cash budgets for 2000 plan to contribute less than last year.
  • 15 corporations expect to donate cash and products this year worth at least 1 percent of 1999’s pre-tax profits.
  • Last year, 22 companies spent at least $1 out of every $10 of their charity dollars overseas.
  • Among the 29 companies that provided data about their overseas gifts in 1998 and 1999, the amount donated to charities abroad grew by a median rate of 13 percent.

The Chronicle’s survey is based on data from 97 countries, all among the 150 biggest in the U.S.

For full story, see the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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